During Sunday’s 31-10 loss to the New York Jets, Chicago Bears fans endured a familiar feeling. Justin Fields was sidelined with a left shoulder injury, forcing veteran journeyman Trevor Siemian into the starting lineup. And while Siemian got off to a hot start against the Jets’ top-tier defense, his performance stalled early, and the Bears’ offense never got back on track.
It was a nightmarish flashback to quarterback purgatory, to the days before Fields was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Siemian was like many Bears quarterbacks of yesteryear. Guys like Mike Glennon or Chase Daniel. Nick Foles or Jimmy Claussen. Josh McCown, Andy Dalton, Brian Hoyer. Siemian is now a member of the undesirable fraternity.
Siemian completed 14-of-25 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
Compounding Siemian’s poor play was the worse play by Chicago’s defense. The Bears were without starting CB Kyle Gordon and SAF Jaquan Brisker (and SAF Eddie Jackson was lost halfway through the game with a troubling lower-leg injury), but I don’t think it would’ve mattered. The only defender who showed up to play against the Jets was LB Jack Sanborn, who’s quickly becoming the Bears’ most valuable piece on defense.
The rookie from Wisconsin was signed by Chicago as an undrafted free agent, yet his future looks brighter than Gordon’s (second round) and Dominque Robinson’s (fifth round). Sanborn led all Bears defenders with 15 tackles against the Jets.
Still, Sanborn’s productive day doesn’t wash the stink off the rest of the defense. Jets backup-turned-starter Mike White threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He looked more like a second-overall pick on Sunday than QB Zach Wilson ever has. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson was nearly uncoverable. He finished with five catches for 95 yards and two scores against the Bears. The Jets’ running game was productive, too. New York totaled 158 rushing yards (nearly five yards per carry) and a touchdown.
It was a brutal loss for the Bears. It was a game that reminded Bears fans how lucky they are to have Fields as a source of hope and optimism for the future.
Running back David Montgomery ran hard — finishing with 79 rushing yards — and wide receiver Chase Claypool flashed some playmaking ability. Maybe the offense would’ve made more plays if Darnell Mooney didn’t injure his ankle. But flush this game down the toilet. It’s one that coach Matt Eberflus and the rest of his staff will want to move on from quickly.
The Chicago Bears’ loss drops them to 3-9 on the season. They began Week 12 with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Carolina Panthers, who held the No. 2 overall pick, defeated the Denver Broncos Sunday, which should push the Bears into the second overall selection.
The Bears can — and should — use that pick (whether it’s the second pick or anywhere in the top five) on an edge rusher or an interior defender who can generate pass rush. The Jets sliced and diced their secondary because, in part, there was no semblance of pressure at any point in the game. At this rate, with or without Fields, the Bears won’t win many games if the defense can’t get off the field.
Next up is Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Justin Fields should be healthy enough to play, but with how terrible the Bears looked against the Jets, you have to wonder whether Chicago will take any chances with him before the Week 14 bye.